Beekeepers rally against Asian bee

Monday, 28 February, 2011

A future with less food is a real possibility if the Asian bee is not eradicated in Australia. So serious is the issue that beekeepers from around Australia will drive their trucks and machinery to Canberra as part of a new campaign ‘Food Security needs Bee Security’.

One of the campaign instigators, Jodie Goldsworthy of Beechworth Honey, said Asian bees threaten to reduce the number of European honeybees, which will mean fewer plants are pollinated, therefore reducing the volume and variety of food able to be produced in Australia.

“This is a food security issue and this campaign became really urgent because at the start of this month, the Australian Government said it was abandoning attempts to eradicate the Asian bee,” Goldsworthy said.

“The Asian bee had a severe impact when it was introduced to the Solomon Islands in 2003, reducing to just five the number of managed hives by the year 2008 - from a starting point of 2000 hives,” she said. “It also disrupts queen rearing of the European Honeybee, which is essential for honey production and for hive build-up required for pollination services. And it has a robbing instinct, taking honey from hives, which means the European Honeybee may starve.”

The Food Security needs Bee Security campaign is asking the Australian Government to: immediately allocate $10 million over two years to eradicate the Asian bee in Australia; implement the recommendations of the 2008 More than Honey report by allocating $50 million annually to maintain healthy bee populations; provide funding for the establishment and operation of the Co-operative Research Centre for Bee Research and Food Security.

Goldsworthy said the campaign developed from a grass roots interest in food security and is supported not only by beekeepers and industry but also by food producers, food stakeholders and people interested in Australia’s ongoing ability to feed its population.

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